Prostate Cancer Awareness - Richard's Story
Golfshake Ambassador Andy Picken continues his own prostate cancer story, with a tale that underlines the importance of being honest and having conversations, which can help to save lives.
Since my diagnosis, I have been trying to raise awareness of Prostate Cancer through a targeted campaign by offering myself to speak to groups about the issues.
I had articles regarding my story ready for publication for months, but held back from publishing as it felt like I was tempting fate. All stories should have a happy ending, but unfortunately this cannot always be guaranteed.
I have now had over 18 months since being told I have cancer. It is a nasty type that is hiding to the rear of the prostate, but at the most recent check, it had not moved into surrounding tissue or bones.
My biggest issue has been the mental side of carrying this tumour around with me. I know it is a potential killer but have resolved to place myself in the hands of my consultant and his team and be guided by him as to when I need to submit myself to more radical forms of therapy. All options are currently open.
I have regular checks of my PSA and this will be an indicator of the path I need to follow, and when. I have good days and bad days. Sometimes I am overwhelmed at the thought of this internal time bomb and others I simply take its presence in my stride.
My major symptom is nocturia. I have not slept more than four hours in total for around three years. I need to get up a pee at least twice a night and this has the effect of then preventing me from returning to sleep.
Surprisingly, I have found that talking about it to strangers and friends is actually helpful and allows me to put it into perspective.
During Christmas in 2019, I attended a golf society event and asked to speak to around 40 of my colleagues and friends who, with me, belong to a police golf society.
This was the most difficult talk I have ever conducted as I consider them all to be my friends.
I am not looking for sympathy with these talks, I'm simply asking men to be more proactive about their own health and well-being. I consider myself to be lucky at the early diagnosis and have had time to adjust to the situation and rationalise it. Despite the awkwardness in talking about these issues it seems right for me to share my story to give others the chance of an early diagnosis.
I explained the statistics. 12,000 died last year. The most prolific cancer. No screening programmes. 1 in 8 men will be affected by the disease. Higher risk for black men and men with a family history of the disease. Many suffer no major symptoms until it is too late to effectively treat. I asked them all to take responsibility for their own health.
Two of my friends who heard my talk that day have now been diagnosed with serious health issues, but treatment options are open to both.
I got a phone call from Richard last week. He opened with: “Andy, thank you. Your little talk has saved my life.”
He explained that he had undergone recent treatment and all now looks well.
We chatted for an hour about his story. He had visited his GP for a Well Man check, and following my advice and despite having no symptoms, he pushed to be tested by his GP. Within three months, despite the pandemic, he was successfully treated. His prognosis is good.
His only symptom of note was a slight dull ache in his lower back that he attributed to working in his garden.
(Andy Picken at St Andrews)
Please remember that this disease does not indicate its presence easily, preferring to conceal itself until too late for active treatment.
The pandemic has reduced fund raising massively and research programmes have been drastically affected.
Since I started my talks, I know of six men who have shared with me issues that have been discovered since they visited their GPs.
All are alive and all have treatment options.
Please think about this, if you are a man over 45 or care for one. If this description fits a loved one, please pester them to get checked. It takes no time, is easy to complete and an early discovery of the disease is the best option if you are unlucky enough to be one of the chosen ones.
I am a 1 in 8. If you are as well, the sooner you know the better.
Golfshake has been promoting Prostate Cancer UK as a charity since my diagnosis. Simply click on the banner headline above to access a raft of information to guide your next steps.
We hate click bait at Golfshake, but that click could save your life.
What have you got to lose?
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